I interviewed Merle Haggard (1937-2016) for TV GUIDE’s Music Guide in the early 2000s. I backed up the main writer, who was on vacation that week, so the Q&A was something that, quite literally, came my way by chance – and from Haggard’s willingness to yak on the phone for 20-or-so minutes knowing that, at most, only one quote would make it into print. (We were great at paraphrasing.) He was gracious and funny, and offered good insights into his music.
Anyway, much will be written about his legacy by folks far more knowledgable than I. That said, “If We Make It Through December,” which spent four weeks atop the country singles chart in December 1973 and January 1974, is a stone-cold classic – one of the greatest songs ever written about living through tough economic times, I think.
It’s both cool and cruel how life plays out sometimes, huh? Thanks for sharing your story.
As I was busy tending to my rapidly declining father-in-law’s needs this morning and afternoon and evening, I did not hear about Merle Haggard’s passing until but a few minutes ago. He was a favorite of my father’s and although I am not 100% sure, I recall seeing Hag play at a alcohol or cigarette or chewing tobacco sponsored country music package tour that came through town in the 80s. It was last concert I ever attended with my folks if I’m remembering correctly. After that, my constant concert companion was my best gal. We’ve been together for 32 years now.
Agreed on “If We Make It Through December” – one of Dad’s favorite melancholy Xmas songs. His absolute favorite Haggard tune was “Okie From Muskogee” followed by “Fighting Side Of Me” from the same album, which Dad had on eight-track.
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